Only on The A-Team would American hillbillies end up running elephant poaching in Kenya.
The other day my wife and I were driving to the store and I mentioned that, given the date, it wouldn’t be too much longer before this project was complete. Not a second went by before she completely dismissed that idea: “yeah, you only have 47 episodes or whatever left.” Ouch!
This really threw me for a loop. If you can’t count on your wife to support you watching a TV show for a year, who will? Do you people really think I won’t finish before the end of the year? Have I ever let you down before? (Don’t answer that last question.)
The plain fact is this: like my hero Hannibal, I have a plan to make this project successful. Granted, it relies on a massive amount of self-discipline that I still have to develop. But as anyone who saw me write papers in college knows, I am best up against a deadline. I will work. I will fight. I will refuse to quit, refuse to surrender. I will not give up; I will keep going until all obstacles have been overcome, until this year is truly complete. I will succeed.
And if all that fails and I finish late, I’ll just make up something about “computer problems,” or how my internet connection stopped working, and blame it on that.
Wild Guess Preview: Hannibal’s Irish pub, The Naked Lady, may be gone, but his appetizers have sent shockwaves through L.A.’s culinary scene, especially the crispy, cheesy Anti-Famine Potato Skins. Some aggressive restaurant owners take the colonel hostage, hoping to get the recipe, but all they get is a whole lotta payback, courtesy of the A-Team. By the way, Season 3 has a large number of food and restaurant related episodes because Stephen J. Cannell briefly hired “Weird” Al Yankovic as head writer.
The Recap: We’re in Kenya? Maybe the writers realized we’ve spent a lot of time in L.A., and they’re overcompensating by setting this week’s show halfway around the world. In Kenya there is stock footage of elephants, and some cranky dudes in Jeeps shoot the stock footage and take its tusks. An animal preserve officer pulls up and tries to arrest the vicious stock footage poachers, but they shoot him in the back and push his Jeep off a cliff. This is maybe the third person in series history to actually get killed, so these guys are seriously evil.
Danger, Daphne Maxwell-Reid! Danger!
Now the preserve has just one officer: Kamora (Daphne Maxwell-not-yet-Reid), who’s also the sister of the dead guy. She travels to a computer expo in California to find the A-Team, where she meets Hannibal dressed as “Rocky the Robot,” and he brings her to meet the rest of the team. B.A. gets fired up when he hears about the mission: “I say we go in there and skin those poachers,” he says. Face and Hannibal are more ambivalent: Face notes the $5,000 Kamora’s offering for the mission won’t even cover their airfare, but B.A. insists. So they try another tactic: they’d have to fly to Kenya, and B.A. doesn’t fly. “The word is scared,” Murdock adds. “You’re scared to fly.” But B.A.’s trying to impress the lady, so he waves this away. “Scared of flying? Me?” he replies. “That’s just an act I put on sometimes. I ain’t afraid of nothin’.” Of course, he totally loses it when the plane takes to the air and Hannibal has to sedate him, saying “I love it when B.A. comes together… asleep”?!?
I’m going to recreate this scene with my new Mr. T doll and my stuffed Curious George
The team sets up shop in Kenya without any further incident, at least until B.A. wakes up to find a monkey on his leg and flips out again. Kamora asks why B.A. didn’t just admit he was afraid of flying, and B.A. shakes his head. “I ain’t afraid to fly, and I ain’t afraid of no monkeys, either!” Then he runs across the room to get away from the monkey, who ends up with Murdock instead. Hannibal figures the best way to shut down the poaching is to first find the shooters and work their way up to the sellers and distributors. He suspects the poachers are tracking the elephants by airplane and passing the info to the Jeep guys. So Hannibal drops by Gimali Airfield disguised as a hairy, mustachioed guy, and drops a homing device on the poachers’ plane. The team listens in as the pilot tells the poachers where to find the elephants, and they head out to scramble the poachers. (Still got it!) Kamora is worried and tells the team to be careful, but B.A. assures her “we’ll be all right.” Kamora’s monkey is playing with her coffee cup as B.A. says this.
Thanks to Hannibal’s planning, the team is actually at the poachers’ rendezvous point before the poachers, which gives Murdock time to riff about how B.A.’s ancestors lived here in Kenya. “These are your roots!” he exclaims, handing B.A. some dust from a hillside. B.A. is less enthusiastic: “This is dirt, fool!” Hannibal spots the poachers as they drive up, so he and B.A. take the Jeep and spray ’em with machine guns until they surrender. “Volunteer game wardens,” Hannibal says by way of introduction; the poachers say the last game warden, Kamora’s brother, “disappeared because he just wouldn’t listen,” and his predecessor took payoffs and “retired a rich man.” Hannibal’s not impressed: “I’m not retiring, and I’m already rich.” B.A.: “And I’m already mean!” The thugs’ plan B is to punch B.A. – bad move – and they get dropped easily, especially when Face and Murdock run over to help, Hannibal warns the poachers to keep away from the preserve “or we’ll skin you, and sell your hides.” The poachers drive off, unaware that Hannibal put another homing device on the back of one of their Jeeps. Face says there’s one catch: “now they’re going to want to get even.” “I hope so,” Hannibal says.
If you were Indiana Jones you’d be really scared right now!
The poachers’ boss, Novarro, is mad: “I tell you to bring back tusk and animal skins, not stories about game wardens!” He shows off a deadly mamba snake and starts to serve up some metaphor about how the poachers need to defang their attackers, but the team drives their Jeep through the wall and starts shooting up the place. “You’re not only shut down,” Hannibal says, “you’ve got a little debt.” Face has the precise number: $472,000.19, plus all the tusks and animal skins they’re prepping for shipment. The poacher guy gives the old line about how the team doesn’t know who it’s dealing with, but Hannibal says wrong: they’re dealing with “a bunch of out of work poachers.” Novarro has no comeback to this, so the team heads out.
Novarro is a little nervous (and a lot angry) so he tells his men to fly all their merchandise out the next day. The team hears this through another tracking device – Orwell’s 1984 has less surveillance in it – and Hannibal puts another plan together. He wants Face to get some phony animal skins and elephant tusks, and asks Kamora: “Could you find us a couple of nice elephants on short notice?”
Afternoon in California: the perfect setting for nighttime in Kenya!
It’s nighttime (even though the sun is pretty visible) and B.A.’s on guard duty. He hears some kind of animal noise in the bushes and yells for Murdock to come out and help him. “You’re nothing but 230 pounds of pure fear,” Murdock says, though he’s just as freaked as B.A. and doesn’t actually come out. B.A. finds the source of the noise: Kamora, who can apparently imitate lion growls. She’s sad and misses her brother, so B.A. gives her some street-tough grief counseling and she feels a little better.
Hannibal and his bushy fake mustache are back at the airfield the next morning, putting yet another homing device on a plane; that’s what, like six now? He also puts a small explosive on the fuel line, and detonates it shortly after takeoff to force the plane back to the ground. Face, Hannibal and B.A. all race out to his emergency landing point in Jeeps; Murdock is on the way too, leading a herd of elephants (!). They take the pilot at gunpoint, and they swap out the actual tusks and skins for the fake ones Face obtained from a “studio props department” in the US. Murdock takes charge of the plane as they fly to the dropoff point; an unusually grouchy Face is there, too, pointing a .357 at the pilot, who tells the poachers to unload the fake equipment into their truck. When they leave, Murdock takes off, and promises to hover near the poachers the whole time, using loops and 360’s. Face doesn’t like this. “Can you do it without the loops?” “Uh-uh.”
Dark Helmet told us to comb the desert, so we’re combing it.